Going The Distance
In today’s world, knowing how to make highly customized, durable packaging machinery for food-and-beverage, paper, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries is only half the battle.
For companies like the Mississauga, Ont.-based Langen Packaging Inc., providing world-class customer service and technical support long after the original machine sale is every bit as important as its renowned manufacturing competence.
This means not only maintaining a well-stocked inventory of off-the-shelf replacement parts and components, but also continually updating the knowledge of each and every Langen machine’s evolving configuration in the field—sometimes for a span of 20 years or more.
Doing this effectively, as well as responding quickly to new customer requests with accurate quotes and proposals that build off existing designs, requires an extremely robust data engine—something that one day proved to be beyond the capabilities of Langen’s homegrown product data management program written in outdated UNIX code.
To remedy this gap, Langen has recently upgraded its IT infrastructure with installation of the ENOVIA SmarTeam software system—coupled with the Microsoft platform and Windows operating system—which has delivered key capabilities: from three-dimeinsional CAD data management to ERP trnscations and email, with planty of room for future growth.
"In most cases, customer demands can be met by using existing designs as the basis for our custom designs," explains Langen’s director of technology development Mirek Tokarz.
"With 50 years of wide-ranging experience, we find that most customer requirements have elements similar to previous projects,î he adds.
"Having an accurate databank of those solutions and proposals saves work during the quotation process and allows Langen to respond to custom requests quickly and cost effectively."
Thsese days, Langen registers and tracks all requests for quotation (RFQ) in ENOVIA SmarTeam, Tokarz relates.
"With the push of a button, we create a document structure that will be attached to that customer inquiry, so that even if an RFQ does not become a project, we store the activity inside ENOVIA SmarTeam for future
reference," he expands.
"The information facilitates market analysis, so that a design concept for a product that is not manufactured today can become the starting point for a new design tomorrow."
Because ENOVIA SmarTeam operates on the Microsoft platform, information from a broad range of sources—including Microsoft Office applications such as Word and Excel—can be stored together with product designs and proposals, helping ensure that all project details of a project are organized and stored together for future reference.
Moreover, the flexibility and commonality of the Microsoft platform has enabled Langen Packaging to continually expand the use of ENOVIA SmarTeam into new areas of the business, according to Tokarz.
"It just works, and because of its wide use by so many companies, it also is easier to find support expertise when compared to other database platforms."
Tokarz notes that Langen has even integrated ENOVIA SmarTeam with Microsoft Outlook 2003, which allows it to capture project-critical emails, including attachments, that can be stored and linked directly to projects—saving time and making associated documents readily accessible for future use and quick searches.
Tokarz says that his satisfaction ENOVIA SmarTeam has been greatly enhanced by the level of support it Langen from its DS value-added reseller— AscendBridge Solutions Inc. of Markham, Ont.
AscendBridge’s proximity and responsiveness have proven to be a tremendous advantage," he states.
"When we call on AscendBridge, we can count on having someone brilliant sitting in our building, helping us out, within a few hours.
"That is very important because we have put ENOVIA SmarTeam totally in control of our business," he adds. "It’s a wonderful product, but it’s important to know that we have the support we need because we are so dependent on it."
Tokarsz adds that Langen has customized its BOM (bill of material) management system in ENOVIA SmarTeam to suit its product environment—enabling faster cycle-times while eliminating time-consuming
manual data re-entry, resulting in far fewer errors.
"Designers automatically create BOMs using ENOVIA SmarTeam’s item class functionality, which is also linked through gateway programs to our ERP system," Tokarz reveals.
"Once our engineers finish the design of an assembly or part, they simply click a button to indicate it is production ready—automatically transmitting the data to the ERP system, populating either the Purchasing or Manufacturing queues, with no further human intervention required," he says.
"This way, the purchasing guys automatically know what they need to buy, and the manufacturing automatically know what they need to build—anything from simple manual cartooning machines all the way up to complex production lines."
All in all, Tokarz says that implementing ENOVIA SmarTeam in a Microsoft environment has provided Langen with a key advantage over the competition.
"Access to a single, reliable source of product and project information throughout the business and an absence of duplicate information are keys to business success," he sums up.
"Having one global database that we can rely on, and a powerful system to manage it, gives Langen Packaging a tremendous advantage in the marketplace—bringing a lot of value to our business environment."